MIT Upends No. 7 WPI, 51-46

Senior Matt Redfield
Senior Matt Redfield

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. – In a game in which neither team had more than a seven-point advantage, MIT edged ahead in the final 10 minutes and then held off No. 7 WPI to take a 51-46 victory in New England Women's and Men's Athletic Conference (NEMWAC) men's basketball action this afternoon. Junior Ryan Frankel (New York, N.Y.) had 14 points for MIT, while senior Domenick Mastascusa (North Reading, Mass.) dropped in 14 of his own for WPI. The victory was win No. 300 for MIT head coach Larry Anderson.

After the two teams traded baskets in the opening minutes, MIT (9-3, 2-0 NEWMAC) opened up a five-point edge when senior Andrew Acker (Merion Station, Pa.) converted on a three-point play five minutes in that made it 11-6 in favor of the Cardinal and Grey. WPI (11-2, 1-1 NEWMAC) came within three points four times during the nine minutes after Acker's points, but each time MIT answered with a basket to keep the Engineers at bay.

With 6:23 to go in the half WPI closed the gap to three on a layup by freshman Obi Obiora (Boston, Mass.), but this time MIT answered with baskets from Acker and sophomore Tim Butala (Monroe, Conn.) that had the Engineers up by seven at 23-16 with five minutes left. Mastascusa then sparked a 9-2 run to end the half for WPI when he stole the ball and took it the length of the court for a layup. Senior Sam Longwell (Acton, Mass.) then drained a three to make it a two-point game before junior Zach Karalis (North Andover, Mass.) tied the contest at 23-all on a layup with 2:31 on the clock. The two teams then traded baskets in the final minutes to go into the half tied up at 29-29.

Layups in by freshman Aaron Todd (York, Maine) and junior Aaron Davis (Marshfield, Mass.) gave WPI a four-point edge, its biggest lead of the game, two and a half minutes into the second half. Senior Dennis Levene (Weston, Conn.) then nailed three for MIT before a pair of free throws by senior Matt Redfield (Los Altos, Calif.) put the Cardinal and Grey back on top. 

With both teams shooting less than 40 percent in the second half, neither squad could put a run together; with MIT clinging to its slim lead until back-to-back baskets by Mastascusa and Longwell had WPI back within a point at 36-35 with eight minutes to go. MIT answered with a dunk by Redfield and a three from junior Russell Johnson (New York, N.Y.) to extend the lead to six points with six minutes remaining.

From there WPI could get no closer than four points. Mastascusa scored two straight layups for WPI, with the last making it a 46-42 game with 2:48 left. Butala answered on the other end for MIT to make it a six-point game and from there WPI was forced to foul to try and come back. MIT hit on just 3-of-6 free throws in the final minute, but it proved to be enough to hold off the Engineers from Worcester for the win.

Levene was the only other player for MIT to reach double figures, finishing with 10 points, while Acker and Johnson each had eight rebounds to pace the Engineers. For WPI, Mastascusa also led the team with eight rebounds, with Longwell reaching double figures in scoring with 13 points.

MIT will be on the road for its next game, traveling to Coast Guard for a 7:00 p.m. contest on Wednesday, January 14. WPI will also be on the road, taking on Babson College on Wednesday at 7:00 p.m.